Due for a class presentation soon, and want to ace it like one of those TEDTalk speakers you’ve seen online? Maybe you’re an introvert, thinking that speaking well in public is impossible without charisma? Not to worry, we’ll welcome everyone who wants to give this a try!
Still, where do you begin? Public speaking can definitely be nerve-wracking, no matter how experienced you are. But with the right foundation in place, you can definitely conquer this fear and make your voice heard!
Understand the Basics of Public Speaking!
The next time you have a speaking engagement, try these tips to deliver your message like a TEDTalk presenter!
1. Know Your Audience
To begin, you need to know your audience.
Are you speaking to field professionals? Consumers? Students?
TEDTalk presenters are usually brought over as guests to speak on a variety of interesting topics, but every one of them understands the importance of a target audience.
Understanding who you will be speaking to, will connect you towards engaging through their interests or needs. You’re here to keep them interested in what you’re saying, so you’ll have to know what they want and need to hear!
Craft a narrative that will resonate well with your audience, or raise personal anecdotes that they can relate to, so that people will empathise with your content.
2. Prepare Well
[iStock / South_agency]
Next, prepare well!
The TEDTalk speakers you see online are mostly telegraphed beforehand with a script that requires a painstaking amount of practice to get everything right. While ad-libbing still exists, knowing what your main speech is about can give you more confidence in your words.
Practise your speech or presentation several times. Consider using notes or bullet points to help you remember key points. If you know you’re the type to have pre-talk jitters, find ways to reduce your tension before you go on stage! A few examples include practising positive visualisation, deep breathing, grounding exercises, and lastly staying focused on your material!
Oh yes, avoid excessive caffeine intake too! Coffee can be a good way to keep you pepped up, but too much will add on to the adrenaline that we already feel when speaking in front of others. It can also dehydrate your vocal chords, making your voice drier.
3. Speak Clearly & Confidently
TEDTalk speakers hardly stumble with how they convey their voice to a crowd. You may spot a few stage jitters getting in the way at times, but these professionals don’t let this stop them!
Your tone will make a big difference, so make sure you get a few rounds of practice in before you’re ready on stage! Do not speak too fast, or mumble. Keep your voice clear, confident and consistent. This reassures the audience that you are the professional here, and what you’re saying is worth listening to.
Whatever style you want to go with delivering your speech, make sure that it sounds coherent! A good trick to do this is to cut out filler words like your “uhm”s and your “ah”s. Replace them with short pauses, and you’ll see how much more convincing your words can become!
4. Use Body Language & Eye Contact
[Getty Images / Monty Rakusen]
A voice alone is merely part of the engagement. Next you’ll want to emphasise a connection with your audience over your content.
TEDTalk speakers aren’t just statues. They’re animated, lively and seem to want to tell a story! Their secret has always been movement. Move about, and allow the eyes of the crowd to fall on your hands and gestures!
Surprising, right? The use of your presence on-stage is actually the key to draw the crowd’s attention. What people call stage charisma, is the energy that makes one’s performance unforgettable. You don’t have to be larger than life to charm your audience; you just have to be conscious of what you do on stage!
Certain actions like maintaining eye contact or using gestures and body language can do the trick. And hey, don’t hesitate if you want to move around the stage to make that connection. Good stage performers do that too!
5. Engage Your Audience
You’re now moving about, skillfully weaving through the crowd with attention-grabbing techniques. Now it’s time to engage your listeners!
TEDTalk speakers like to introduce some levels of closeness with their audience. With this briefly-knit relationship, their words can begin to resonate better with listeners.
Involve your audience by asking questions or encouraging participation, and use examples to help illustrate your points.
“Who here in the audience wants to come up and be my test subject?”
Come up with a few lines like this in your pocket, and make use of humour so that your audience eases up on your stage antics! Be bold and explore ways to move and mould the crowd into your presentation.
6. Stay Focused
It’s good to keep your audience interested in you as a speaker, but be sure not to go too off topic! TEDTalk speakers can keep their presentations at the perfect length because they’ve internalised the amount of time they can take for each point they want to make.
Stay on course by allocating time to each point and keeping the conversation structured with a script! Some speakers tend to go ad-lib in an attempt to engage the audience, but may sometimes fall into the trap of rambling too much.
So remember, keep your presentation or speech concise, and to the point!
7. Keep it Simple
“People have a tendency to give presentations the audience doesn’t understand,” says psychology professor Barry Schwartz.
Once you know more about something, you forget what it was like when you didn’t. You may talk in a manner that is hard to follow, and that will make the audience lose interest.
What good is a presentation that doesn’t have the attention of its audience? This is what you can emulate from these stage professionals at these TEDTalk speeches as well. They speak fast and simple!
What you can do to avoid making your presentation too “wordy” or “difficult”, is to imagine that you’re going to make a pitch to a grandmother. Keep your sentences short and simple, so that even the dullest person in the room can follow along!
8. Use Visual Aids
This may be a no-brainer for most, but be sure to include visual aids! As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
As professionals, TEDTalk speakers would make fanciful and colourful slides to draw attention, and can even cycle through them quickly at times in order to make their presentation even more animated.
Load your slides or content with images and diagrams. Condense and illustrate your key points with bold font, or colour-code things that you want to draw attention to. Many past speakers have utilised various presentation designs to capture attention, so you should take a page out of their visual methods of engagement!
9. Be Authentic
A presentation should not feel and sound inorganic. You’d be surprised to learn that the audience can often notice when the speaker is pandering and not actually talking about how they really feel! When you’re going off a script that sounds too journalistic, it can become difficult to adjust your tone to feel more personal.
If you don’t want to end up sounding like a robot, you should speak from the heart and be genuine. Come up with personal anecdotes and slot them in between your points. Raise examples and talk about yourself and how your content is important to you and others in the crowd.
Draw emotions from the audience! Your audience will definitely appreciate your sincerity and honesty, giving you another valuable connection with the audience.
10. Leave Time for Questions
Hold on, don’t forget about the last point to audience engagement, answering questions!
Giving space for questions shows that you value the audience’s input. TEDTalk speakers build rapport between them and their listeners this way, as they will appear more approachable and open to questions.
Most speakers tend to keep this part of the engagement to the end with a dedicated Q&A section, as uninvited questions can sometimes throw their presentation off-course. But if you think you have the capacity for it, don’t be afraid to answer a few questions so doubts can be clarified earlier!
As for your Q&A section, you’ll have to be prepared! This bit of your presentation tests your knowledge and readiness of your subject matter, so you can show that you know what you’re talking about!
Case Study from TEDTalk
Let’s see how a pro does it! In this TEDTalk, watch Apollo Robbins as he transforms a topic like pickpocketing, into a playful conversation about attention span and misdirection.
Listen to his introduction, and how he eases into the crowd. Immediately, a strong word of interest like “superpower” hooks you in. With a calculated blend of subtle humour, Robbins checks for the audience’s cell phones right after his introduction as a pickpocket. His third part of the act was to ask a thought-inducing question to his audience: “Without looking at your cell phone directly yet, can you remember the icon at the bottom right corner?”
With this, Robbins had successfully gained the undivided attention of his listeners.
A good public speaker is like a stage performer. Add in the words, the engagement with the audience, and bring them all together with a good structure on your topic.
But performances need to be studied, practised and delivered completely. Do not be afraid of your stage fright, or even taking the first steps to making a speech for others. Nervousness is a normal feeling, but you can overcome it with preparedness.
Practise with a friend, or record yourself making a speech! Take deep breaths and calm your nerves. Treat the process as a fun challenge for yourself, and see how much you’ll improve after a week or two!
When you’ve truly mastered your public speaking skills, that is when you will feel the significance in what you’ve learnt today. Who knows, you just might have a talent for this!
If you’ve made it big enough to be invited on the coveted stage, don’t forget to send us tickets!
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